Freitag, 15. Dezember 2017, 15:15 - 16:45 iCal

Crypto-Christian and Atheist

The Westward Journey of the 17th century ?aivite Poet T?yum??avar

Seminarraum 1 des Instituts für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde, Bereich Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
Spitalgasse 2, Eingang 2.7, 1090 Wien


Zum Vortrag:

The 19th century saw intensive missionary activity in the Tamil region of South India. Particularly enduring proved to be the work of the Scudder family, evangelical Christians preachers from the Dutch Reformed Church of North America, who lived and preached in the North Arcot area of the Madras Presidency from the early 19th – 21st century. Prominent among this family was Henry Martyn Scudder (1822-1895), a fine Tamil scholar who wrote a compilation of preaching tracts called The Bazaar Book or the Vernacular Preacher’s Companion published in 1865. Contemporaneously, the 19th century also saw the founding, in Madras, of the Hindu Free Thought Union which was renamed the Madras Secular Society in 1886. The organization arose obviously in response to scientific and rationalist movements in the “metropole” of England. Particularly influential, ideologically, were the writings of Charles Bradlaugh (1833-1891), the National Secular Society he founded in 1866, and the mouthpiece of the

secularist position, the National Reformer, of which Bradlaugh became the editor in 1860. It was the direct inspiration of the National Secular Society that lay behind the founding the Hindu Free Thought Union and the subsequent publication of its Tamil journal, The Discrimination of Realities (Tattuvaviv?ci?i) from 1878. Both these works dealt, either extensively or briefly with the poetry of the ?aivite poet of the 17th century, T?yum??avar, whose works endured and were immensely popular as part of the oral Tamil tradition in the 19th century. Yet, in their understanding of him they come to opposite conclusions – The Bazaar Book sees T?yum??avar as a Crypto-Christian while The Discrimination of Realities sees him as an atheist. This paper discusses this widely disparate view of T?yum??avar in the light of the cleavage of the Tamil, literary canon into a dichotomy of “religious” and “secular” as it emerged within the context of the formation of Tamil Christianity and Tamil Rationalism in the 19th century.


Zur Vortragenden:

Srilata Raman is Associate Professor of Hinduism at the University of Toronto and works on medieval South Asian/South Indian religion, devotionalism (bhakti), historiography and hagiography, religious movements in early colonial India from the South as well as modern Tamil literature. Her areas of interest are Tamil and Sanskrit intellectual formations from late medieval to early colonial periods including the emergence of nineteenth century socioreligious reform and colonial sainthood.

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Verein Sammlung De Nobili – Arbeitsgemeinschaft für Indologie und Religionsforschung & Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde


Judith Starecek
Institut für Südasien-, Tibet- und Buddhismuskunde
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